ever joyful to be alive

I lie here this morning grateful to be alive. My lungs are burning with inhaled smoke and I feel as weak as a kitten but I thank God for waking me up in time.

I must back track. We have always had a smoke alarm, since they arrived on the market, a battery operated siren that would go off at the merest whiff of decent cooking and an army of towels would prance down the hallway laughing and joking about my burnt sausages.

A few years ago we got the house partially rewired and the electrician would not leave without installing two alarms, one up and one down and I thought they were smoke alarms. I didn’t give a lot of thought to it, I just took out the battery of the “Susan is cooking” alarm and enjoyed the fact that they didn’t keep going off every time I entered the kitchen.

In fact I gave it no thought at all until last evening when they went off with Sean’s cooking. Oh I had a good few minutes chortling whilst the siren wail burst through my head. But it wouldn’t shut up. Sean said they weren’t smoke alarms, they were heat alarms.

I thought this odd, but again appreciative of the fact that they hadn’t wailed all along. Having a full house means I am sleeping on the couch with Toffee, my lovely sweet one year old cat. I get less sleep on the sofa, especially when the high winds hit on Thursday night but it is warmer than any of the other rooms so, c’est la vie, all good.

Until last night.

And now I am not sure I will ever sleep again comfortably in this room.

Toffee and I finally snuggled up to sleep at about two after playing silly games distracting me from sermon writing. At four thirty I kind of woke, wondering why my breath hurt, why I was very shallow breathing, why my chest hurt, why my throat hurt and why I was feeling a bit disorientated. And there was an awful smell that seemed to be everywhere like burning, kind of.

It took me a few minutes to put on the light and then I thought the bulb was dying because it was barely shining. But I felt so weak, so sleepy, did it really matter but the smell and why wasn’t I breathing right. After a few more minutes of hesitation I got up, a bit dizzy but sure I usually am first thing, a bit groggy but with two hours  sleep understandable, and I couldn’t see straight, again sleeplessness I put it down to.

One thing that was nagging me though was why Toffee didn’t wake up when I moved, she always does, her little bell tinkling. So I continued and put on the brightest light above the range, the main lights that take a while to warm up and opened the door.

When I breathed outside the door, I realised I had been breathing smoke. The range must have got blocked and the smoke had come into the room. I woke Sean and then lay down on the couch, the dizziness overwhelming me finally. The windows were opened, the range unbanked. The acrid smell of left over smoke was still in my nostrils but I was too weak to care and I went back to sleep. I didn’t sleep well and woke after a few minutes to turn on all the lights so I could see if it started again and finally got around to checking on Toffee. She was fine, well like I am fine.

We are both weak, she probably has a chest like mine that wants to cough from the soles of my feet. I am just so grateful that I did wake and take action. It would have been so easy to turn over and go back to sleep.

And I am left wondering, what is the point of a heat alarm and when I am feeling stronger I am going out to buy a battery powered smoke alarm and am ready to listen to my children laughing about my burnt offerings. And isn’t it weird that the one day the heat alarm goes off is the day I find out it isn’t a smoke alarm and is the same day I needed one. Cold smoke kills too!

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9